It’s so funny what the body remembers. You can leave a place for years, come back, and suddenly your arm recalls the exact angle it has to be at when you turn the lamp on in your parents’ bedroom. In the dark, you can still do it, on the first try.
If I lived there, at least now, I wouldn’t feel like I was living. I know, some of you out there are thinking I’m up to my dramatics again, but it’s the truth. Over the past ten years, I have morphed into a Bostonian – (not a real one, mind you, I know my place you Dot and JP natives) someone who finds zen in the Public Gardens, who thrives on the (relative) diversity of the city’s suburbs, who loves being able to take a pickup dance class in Cambridge on the drop of a hat. Trucks, large houses, and the space of the outer suburbs never got me going. It made me feel stale. I was always more of a museum-going, coffeehouse bum who loved listening to some musician wail over the swan boats.
And yet, returning home, this time, I feel peace…a sanctuary.
Perhaps it’s the fact that my Dad’s ill. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m finding peace with this town? It is, after all, just a town. A little town.
A little town with “tree tunnels”, as Fiona likes to call them. What she’s referring to is the arc of trees that engulf the space above Gilson Road; the trees’ branches on either side reach towards each other, creating a small hideaway for the few seconds you drive under it. There sure is nature here. And produce – Gary’s never looked so good yesterday, with its silver queen corn and lettuce and tomatoes growing plentifully past the off-terrain roads my friends and I would drive on in high school.
But, I got a taste of the old Littleton as I turned onto Matawanakee. An older man, perhaps in his 60’s, was standing with two younger adults, probably in their early 20’s. They looked right in my car, made a disgusted face, and turned away. Maybe it was the massive dent on the side of my car, maybe it was that they had just eaten something bad. A lot of you might shrug this off, but when you live in a town for 20 years that notices literally every step you make – it’s tiring.
When I moved to Amherst and Somerville, I was amazed at how people just didn’t care. About anything. Long story short, they had their own shit to worry about. And I loved that. Instead of someone noting loudly to people how unfit I was as I stretched, I ran for miles and miles and people let me be. Instead of noting how fucking thin I was and how I should get some help, the city let me hit rock bottom on my own. And I needed that. I needed space to breathe and space to fuck up. I didn’t need Jeff Roy telling me that he wasn’t going to sit at the same seat as me because I was fat. I didn’t need people who needed me to grow smaller to fit in.
I laugh at myself, because I probably sound like I think I’m too good for this town – and I’m not. I’m not. It’s just a matter of preference. Some people need more space. Some people need less.
The nice thing is, today I can return to my parents’ house and enjoy the pleasant/musty/flowery smell that I’ve grown accustomed to for years. I can sit in my parents’ yard and revel in the sanctuary that my mother created through morning glories and pansies and brown eyed susans. One step out of Mohawk Trail and I see abuse. But inside her garden, the birds chirp and it’s almost like a town I never knew.